In context: Video game streamers are one of the most popular sources of entertainment for young people in today’s day and age. Popular personalities like Ninja can pull in tens of thousands of viewers at any given time, and rake in cash from donations, subscriber fees, and merchandise sales. With so much influence, it’s not hard to see why some games can see massive success (or failure) based on how popular they are on streaming platforms like Twitch.
Until recently, Fortnite was the game that was on everybody’s mind. Large streamers play the game day in and day out, often for upwards of 10 hours at a time. Recently, though, the tides have been shifting: Fortnite streamers are growing tired of the game, and want some more variety in their life.
Lately, that variety has come in the form of World of Warcraft Classic, a faithful recreation of the 15-year-old MMO’s original launch state.
Classic is now the most popular game to stream on Twitch, boasting 156,000 viewers as of writing. By comparison, Fortnite has 122,000 (which is still a very respectable number, of course) viewers. Even Ninja, who has abandoned Twitch for Microsoft’s Mixer, has mostly been playing WoW Classic recently.
It isn’t hard to see why this change has come about. Obviously, any new experience is bound to come as a breath of fresh air for streamers, but Classic has a certain formula that makes it engaging.
Progression is slow but rewarding, and there are dozens of different goals for players to pursue during their gaming sessions. You can hunt down the rarest mounts or pets in the game, search for epic loot with unique abilities, or simply focus on building up your character’s weapon skills (a feature that no longer exists in the main game).
That constant variety, combined with the cooperative nature of the game (which leads to various interesting social interactions), gives both streamers and viewers something fresh to look forward to every day.
By contrast, Fortnite matches usually have the same formula: try to be the last one standing in a massive PvP deathmatch. That’s not to say there isn’t value in such an experience (or that there aren’t other ways to play), but it can eventually get quite tedious.
Viewers’ shifting interests have led to some interesting changes in Twitch’s streamer rankings. Now, old WoW pros are beginning to boast the highest viewer numbers — a great example is Asmongold (also known as Zack), a content creator who has been playing and broadcasting WoW proper for many years now.
While he’s always had a sizable core fanbase, his viewer base has seen a massive boost following the launch of Classic. As of writing, his Classic stream has about 71,000 viewers, which puts him at the #1 spot. For comparison’s sake, Ninja has roughly 8,000 viewers on Mixer (playing the same game).
We can’t predict the future, so it’s possible that Classic’s popularity — both in and out of the streamer community — will eventually die down. However, we don’t anticipate that this will happen soon. Nostalgia is not the only reason the game has garnered so much success over the past couple of weeks.
In fact, it’s likely that many Classic viewers and players are too young to have ever played the aging title in its original state, and are only just now delving into it for the first time.
Classic’s slower leveling pace, increased difficulty, and arguably superior class customization are all at odds with WoW retail’s approach to progression. The latter favors quick gratification, and the maximum level can be reached in about a week of semi-focused play (most of your core class abilities are earned in just a day or two). Classic, on the other hand, can demand around three months of casual gaming before you’ll reach the level cap of 60.
Regardless of how you feel about Classic, it’s interesting to see such an old game gain so much attention. We look forward to seeing whether or not the game will retain the attention of users in the coming months.
Image credit: Mixer, Rock Paper Shotgun